"Let's see Al Kooper do THIS!"
When I'm on the road or in deep production, sometimes I can’t get a column done on time. To prevent quality loss, I thought I’d go back to our first year (2011) and republish some of the better music that didn’t reach the readership we have now. I apologize to the original readers who are still with us, but if you’re anything like me, you won’t mind hearing great music that you probably forgot by now anyway.
1. "Meaningless Love" — Under the Influence of Giants (3:28)
A different edit of this tore up the radio a few years back and made the top 20, but you don’t hear much about these lads nowadays. So they will be, for now, the one-hit wonders of today's roundup. This is a pretty darn good record (GREAT guitar figure!). I wonder why they couldn’t duplicate this with a decent follow-up. But on the other hand, I wonder about things like this all the time.
2. "Chicago, City of Shoulders" — Andy Davis (3:24)
This guy has got the goods, but his presence in the marketplace has been very limited. This is the real deal. The squeaky acoustic guitar is off-putting, but all the other accomplishments make up for it. This was the first track I ever heard by Andy. As time went by, it was quicly followed by many more great compositions from each subsequent album. He has become a regular contributor to this column.
3. "Rescue Blues" (Al's remaster/edit) — Ryan Adams (3:05)
So I’m watchin’ a movie on TV about ten years ago and this very listenable song comes on for the close of the film. So I check out the credits to see who is singing it and then I wind it back a little and record just the song. It turns out to be Ryan Adams and I go on iTunes and I can’t find the version from the movie. So I take the first verse from the iTunes version and splice the rest of the song from the movie, make a few other small edits to accommodate all this and remaster the results. I always thought it sounded pretty darn good. I guess the film's composer added a choir and brass to the ending and it’s fairly verbose. As far as I know, there is no audio version of the movie track available but you can listen to my escapade and enjoy. By the way, the film was Behind Enemy Lines (2001).
4. "First Sight" — PJ Morton (2:17)
I liked PJ's first album and I like this one (New Orleans) too. He’s a Prince/Sly student with enough of his own originality to take flight.
5. "Lament" — Mount Moriah (2:08)
This Durham, North Carolina group is doin’ somethin’ here. This is comparatively raw but it is surely from the heart and that always gets a lotta points. The singer Heather McEntire deserves to be a big star. Keep tuned in to this band. Here they are LIVE. And as Heather says here: “If this will be anything, then let it be over.” Also, they all get big points for wearin’ Al’s favorite headphones!
6. "Can't Get You Out of My Mind" — Sonya Kitchell (4:09)
Although she doesn’t sound a thing like Janis Joplin, Sonya shares the exact same expressiveness that Janis had. Her purer voice makes the difference; it doesn’t seem to be tempered with alcohol, smokes, and drugs the way Ms. Joplin’s obviously was. The dynamics in this track are beautiful; the band is sympathetic to her every word. This would be great late night, perfect lights are low background music. Try it. Doesn’t even matter if you’re alone. (Maybe it’s even better.)
You’re a great singer, Sonya — but that couch upholstery has got to GO
7. "Heaven" — Longhouse (3:12)
This doesn’t appear to have been a group, but rather a vehicle for singer/songwrIter Lisa Herman on Warner Brothers circa 1989. This is a rare a cappella track quite deftly arranged, recorded, and sung. I’ve always loved this and am glad I still have the rare CD. Maybe one other track jumped out as well, but I still feel it’s worth it just for “Heaven.” That’s where I go whenever I give it a spin. Hope you’re doin’ okay, Lisa, and you’re NOT in Heaven yet...
8. "Hold on 2 Me" — Theresa Andersson (3:25)
If this is electronica, I am seduced big-time. In the spirit of Gotye, this Swedish-born, New Orleans-residing super talent has made a hit single that nobody knows about. If this got airplay it would have been huge in the old days. So if you agree with me, let’s see what we can do. This is a very well-made record and a great song. It has elements of Enya AND The Shangri-La’s on the same page — no mean feat!
9. "Girls to Shame" — Albert Cummings (4:05)
Originally a home-builder as part of his family’s biz, he switched to banjo-playing in the bluegrass mode and won awards for his pickin’ prowess. After hearing Stevie Ray Vaughn, he chucked everything and concentrated on the blues guitar thang and this is what happened. It’s all good.
10. "Quicksand" — Ryan Leslie (2:47)
Ryan had an accelerated childhood. He was accepted to Harvard in his junior year of high school and graduated with honors at 19. All the while, he honed his musical skills, eventually being discovered by Diddy and put to work producing and writing hip hop hits. I find this track more electronica than rap and enjoy the way it was put together.